Canaveral National Seashore | BIKING

Biking on Black Point Wildlife Drive at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

Biking on Black Point Wildlife Drive at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

CANAVERAL NATIONAL SEASHORE

Bikes are allowed on the paved roads within Canaveral National Seashore, and the only roads are those running through Apollo Beach and Playalinda Beach. These are controlled access roads, so vehicles maintain low speeds. I am not fond of riding a bike in traffic, but if I were to do so, these are the type of roads I would bike on.

MERRITT ISLAND NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE

It may seem logical to think that the roads running through a “Wildlife Refuge” would be low-speed, scenic roads perfect for biking. However, all paved roads within the Merritt Island NWR are major highways with 55+ MPH traffic and no road shoulder. The only safe roads for biking are the Black Point Wildlife Drive and Bio Lab Road. Both of these are very scenic and offer plenty of opportunities to see birds and alligators. Bikes are not allowed on the hiking trails that are located along these roads.

Biking on Black Point Wildlife Drive at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

Biking on Black Point Wildlife Drive at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

Black Point Wildlife Drive is C-shaped, entering and exiting Max Brewer Memorial Parkway (Hwy 406) at two locations. This means that to get back to your car when riding a bike, you must either make a loop that includes a 1-mile stretch of the Parkway, or backtrack along the 7-mile long wildlife drive. It sounds like the Parkway is a no-brainer, but with cars traveling anywhere from 55-70 MPH, combined with no bike lane or even a road shoulder, it is a safety hazard. My family and I—wife and 10-year-old daughter—wanted to ride our bikes around the nature drive to not only get some exercise, but also because when going at a much slower pace you can see animals that you would most likely miss in a car. However, I did not want them riding on the Parkway, and I’d be lucky if my daughter made it 7 miles without complaining, let alone another 7 miles backtracking to the car. Here is my suggestion for tackling the problem if you find yourself in this situation.

I dropped off my wife and daughter, along with their bikes, at the starting point of Black Point Wildlife Drive. It is a one-way road for cars, so there is an actual entrance. I then drove my car to the exit point and parked along the road—there is a spot just past the exit—and then rode my bike back to the start along the Parkway. I only encountered a half dozen cars, and all pulled completely into the opposite lane when passing me, but nevertheless, I went as fast as I could to get off the road, and I would never allow my family on it. Thus, when we finished the bike ride, the car was waiting. With time to drop off the car, you can bike around Black Point Wildlife Drive in about two hours, even with a ten-year-old.

Roadside parking near the exit of Black Point Wildlife Drive on Merritt Island

Roadside parking near the exit of Black Point Wildlife Drive on Merritt Island

I was right about the animals. We saw an alligator that we most likely would not have seen in a car, and also spotted a family of pigs. Everyone in cars drove right on by.

Family of wild pigs on the Black Point Wildlife Drive in Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

Family of wild pigs on the Black Point Wildlife Drive in Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

Alligator spotted along the Black Point Wildlife Drive in Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

Alligator spotted along the Black Point Wildlife Drive in Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

The second scenic biking route, Bio Lab Road, is a 6-mile, one-way road with no feasible option to make a loop by traveling back on the park roads, so there is no avoiding a return trip along the same route.

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Last updated on April 18, 2022
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